Top 12 Best Japanese Liquid Foundations to Buy Online 2019 – Tried and True!

Top 12 Best Japanese Foundations to Buy Online 2018

It’s one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s a trending question on Quora. Why do Japanese women have such beautiful skin? A lot of it starts down at the roots: skincare, diet, genes. However, some of it is surface level stuff: makeup and, specifically, foundation. And out of all the foundation that’s out there, liquid–high-end and drugstore–is prized because it’s both versatile and hydrating.

So in order to tap into those beauty secrets, we ordered the 12 most popular Japanese foundations from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also consulted three experts, who looked for the following:

  1. Finish
  2. Ease of Application
  3. Coverage

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese liquid foundations.

Table of Contents

Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge

This time around, we borrowed the expertise of hair and makeup artists Rika Fujiwara and Mutsuki, as well as the former fashion retailer and Instagrammer Chie Kato.

Chie Kato, Rika Fujiwara, and Mutsuki
〈Chie Kato, Rika Fujiwara, and Mutsuki〉

Beauty Gurus

{Left: Former Fashion Retailer and Instagrammer Chie Kato}
She used to work in fashion as a retail clerk (also the time when she started her blog). After she got married, she quit her job in in the fashion industry. Now, as a housewife, she's still very active, Instagramming daily about fashion, cosmetics, and hair. She's got over 100,000 followers.

{Middle: Freelance Hair and Makeup Artist Rika Fujiwara}
She's a freelance hair and makeup artist and an expert in aromatherapy certified by the Aroma Environment Association of Japan. She also pens beauty columns. She studied under Mr. Hiroki Murooka from the hair and makeup studio ThreePEACE for four years before going independent.

{Right: Hair and Makeup Artist Mutsuki}
She's a popular freelance hair and makeup artist who can turn anyone into an idol. Her creations are known for being girly, exquisite. In the industry, she has a huge following who can't get enough of "Mutsuki Magic," which brings out the innate beauty of actresses and models, leaving them doll-like yet natural.

Why We Aren’t Unjustified in Saying Liquid Foundation is the Best

Why We Aren't Unjustified in Saying Liquid Foundation is the Best

If you’ve been keeping up with beauty trends at all these past few years, then you’re probably already looking to get on the “semi-matte finish” and “dewy skin” bandwagon. And the easiest way to join is through using a liquid foundation.

It’s right in between powder and cream foundations and, by virtue of being liquid, maintains a good balance between hydration, coverage, and longevity. It’s also versatile; with a liquid, you can achieve a no-makeup look, or you can look like you’re ready for a night of clubbing.

Liquid’s also good for keeping you hydrated during the colder, dryer months. (Even members of the oily-skinned crew will turn to liquid foundation during fall and winter.) So as the skies become grayer and the chill starts setting in, more and more brands are turning out new products–just another sign that liquid is here to stay.

How to Choose Japanese Liquid Foundation – Buying Guide

We’ll get into how we tested and compared all of our foundation, but let’s talk about how to pick out a liquid foundation first. We’ve also introduced Japanese translations of a few popular skincare ingredients for the next time you decide to make a trip to one of our department stores.

① Think about What Kind of Finish You Want

Think about What Kind of Finish You Want

Most liquid foundations come out to a dewy finish. You can also look for products with a no-makeup look or semi-matte finish.

Basically, the more watery a liquid foundation is, the more natural of a look you’re going to get. On the other hand, if you’re looking to cover blemishes and pores, you’re going to want something more creamy.

② Get Something Suited for Your Skin Type

There’s a million makers out there and a million bottles of foundation, each formulated for a certain skin type. Here’s how to figure which are suited to you.

Dry Skin Calls for Smoother, Hydrating Foundations

Dry Skin Calls for Smoother, Hydrating Foundations

If you have dry skin, your first priority should be hydrating it. To that end, foundations with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid※1, ceramides※2, and botanical oils※3 are a good choice.

And while you need some staying power to ensure your foundation doesn’t break up along your fine lines, if the foundation is too long-lasting, when you wash it off, you’ll also strip your skin of important oils. Keep that up for long enough, and there’s a good chance you’ll dehydrate your skin even further. Everything in moderation.

※1 ヒアルロン酸: hyaluronic acid

※2 セラミド: ceramides

※3 -オイル: -oil

Oily / Acne Prone Skin Calls for Sebum Controlling Foundation

Oily / Acne Prone Skin Calls for Sebum Controlling Foundation

If you have oily, acne-prone skin, then your priority should be getting foundation that can soak up excess sebum. Your makeup will last longer since there’s less oil to wash everything away.

Recently, Japanese cosmetics companies have been throwing around a new phrase: inner-dry skin. That’s when your face is oily on the surface and dry within; to put it another way, when you dry it out too much, your skin sometimes overcompensates by secreting copious amounts of oil.

In the case you do have inner-dry skin, you want a hydrating foundation. However, thick foundations with a bunch of oils will only make things worse; look for something that packs moisturizing ingredients and can control oil at the same time, like a serum foundation.

③ Pick out a Foundation that Matches Your Skin Color

Most Japanese foundation is made for Japanese skin, so until we globalize more here, the makeup palettes we offer are going to be pretty lacking. In any case, when you try out makeup, don’t do it on the back of your hand. Do it on your jawline–where your face meets your neck. Here are some other things to keep in mind.

Know Your Undertone

Know Your Undertone

The thing about net-shopping is you can’t try anything on, which the best way to test for color. The next best way is to know your undertone. If your veins are blue, you have a cool undertone; if they’re green, you’re warm; if they’re in between, you’re neutral. Most Asians–and by extension, many Japanese foundations–have warm or golden (often referred to as ochre) undertones.

In Japan, people with very pale skin tend to do well with beige or neutral undertones. Pink or cool undertones are kind of up in the air here; however, in general, it seems that if you burn under the sun, you’re likely to have cooler undertones. On the other hand, if all the sun does is give you a nice tan, you probably have warmer undertones.

Go One Shade Lighter if You Have Oily Skin

Go a Shade Lighter if You Have Oily Skin

You know how bananas darken over time? Turns out foundations do this too, in a process known as oxidation. Ingredients in foundation can react with humidity and the oils on your skin, turning your makeup into an unflattering shade of orange. If you have oily skin, your foundation is more likely to oxidize; that’s why it’s usually safe to go a shade lighter.

Liquid foundation is particularly susceptible to sebum, so you need to be extra careful when picking one out. Of course, if you go too light, you’re going to look like a ghost. Never stray more than one shade away from your true skin color.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

Now to introduce the 12 most popular Japanese liquid foundations that we ordered and the process by which we tested them.

{The Products We Tested}

  1. IPSA Liquid Foundation (イプサ リキッド ファウンデイション)
  2. SKII Cellumination Liquid Foundation (SK-II セルミネーション リクィッド ファンデーション)
  3. RMK UV Liquid Foundation (RMK UV リクイド ファンデーション)
  4. ADDICTION The Skincare Foundation (アディクション ザ スキンケアファンデーション)
  5. Coffret D’or Nudy Cover Moisture Liquid UV (コフレドール ヌーディカバー モイスチャーリクイドUV)
  6. Macchia Label Clear Esthe Veil (薬用 クリアエステヴェール)
  7. Ettusais Oil Block Foundation (エテュセ オイルブロック ファンデーション)
  8. kiss Prime Moist UV Essence Foundation (キス プライムモイスト UVエッセンスファンデ)
  9. KATE Liquid Foundation Secret Skin Maker Zero (ケイト リキッドファンデーション シークレットスキンメイカーゼロ)
  10. INTEGRATE Real Fit Liquid (インテグレート リアルフィットリキッド)
  11. ANESSA Perfect UV Liquid (アネッサ パーフェクトUVリキッド)
  12. CEZANNE UV Liquid Foundation (セザンヌUVリキッドファンデーション)

We then tested each for the following things:

Test ①: Finish
Test ②: Ease of Application
Test ③: Coverage

Test ①: Finish

Finish

We had all of our experts apply the foundations to the backs of their hands. They then determined whether the foundation left you with dewy, translucent skin or looking a bit cakey.

The Big Takeaway: When it Comes to Finish, High-End Brands Come out on Top

The Big Takeaway: When it Comes to Finish, High-End Brands Come out on Top

The high-end brands all did well on this particular test. It’s not like there weren’t any high-performing drugstore cosmetics, but when it comes to finish, it seems like you just can’t beat high-end brands.

And we know that you might feel your heart twinge just a bit when you look at those department store prices. However, for most of these products, a little went a long way–so they may be expensive, but you could also say they’re cost-effective.

Rika Fujiwara
Hair and Makeup Artist
Rika Fujiwara's comment
If the foundation spreads well even when you use just a dab, then even a thin layer of makeup can leave you looking put together. Pretty cost effective, I'd say.

Test ②: Ease of Application

Test ②: Ease of Application

Next, we asked our experts to talk about how easy each foundation was to use.

They looked at things like texture and how convenient the packaging was. Our editors also got in on the testing, so we’ve got some amateur opinion thrown in there as well.

The Big Takeaway: Pumps are Really Easy to Use! Softer Textures are Also Great

The Big Takeaway: Pumps are Really Easy to Use! Softer Textures are Also Great

You never have to worry about too much foundation coming out of a push pump. You can also just throw a pump bottle in your purse and pull it out for reapplication throughout the day, so we’re kind of obsessed.

We also found a few foundations that were really thick or ones that were dewy but also pretty sticky. You can imagine how a thick foundation would be difficult to apply, but the sticky stuff is quite troublesome as well.

Chie Kato
Former Fashion Retailer and Instagrammer
Chie Kato's comment
It's easy to control how much comes out of a push pump, and they're easy to carry around.
If you get a more liquidy foundation that spreads easily, you'll be able to make do with smaller amounts, so you could also say they're gentler on the skin.
Mutsuki
Hair and Makeup Artist
Mutsuki's comment
Estee Lauder has bottles with wide lips, so if you use them as is, it'll be difficult to control how much product comes out. Make sure that you don't apply too much.

Test ③: Coverage

Coverage

Finally, our editing department took a look at how much coverage each foundation offered.

We applied drops of foundation the size of a grain of rice to letters printed on a piece of paper; we then spread out each grain and made note of how well they blocked out the print. We also tested the foundations out ourselves to see if they’d really work on our blemishes.

The Big Takeaway: Almost All Our Liquid Foundations Excelled in the Coverage Department

The Big Takeaway: Almost All Our Liquid Foundations Excelled in the Coverage Department

Almost all of the liquid foundations we tested did well. They blocked out the print, and they hid our blemishes.

However, runny foundations tend to go on thin, so you won’t be able to get much coverage out of a rice grain-sized drop.

The Final Verdict: Top 12 Best Japanese Foundations to Buy Online

Now to introduce the 12 best Japanese foundations available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from D to A+.

12. CEZANNE UV Liquid Foundation

CEZANNE UV Liquid Foundation

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Price: $6.27

It Feels Heavy! Plus It Looks Like You’re Not Wearing Any Makeup

It is a waterproof foundation, so it holds up against sweat and humidity. But that’s kind of where the benefits end. Even though this foundation felt heavy, when we tried it out, it didn’t look like we were wearing makeup (and we mean that in a bad way). And though it’s labeled as a UV foundation, you aren’t going to get much mileage out of that SPF26 PA++ rating.

Finish D
Application D
Coverage C
Overall Score D

11. Anessa Perfect UV Liquid

Anessa Perfect UV Liquid

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Price: $26.24

It’s Thick and Doesn’t Spread Easily, but You Can Use It to Spot Conceal

This foundation was so thick, we had a hard time spreading it out. If you put on too much, you start looking cakey, so make sure you use in moderation. However, this foundation is ANESSA, which is known for its impeccable sunscreen products. It will not only protect you from UV rays, but also withstand sweat and water–perfect for outdoors sports.

Finish C
Application D
Coverage A
Overall Score D

10. kiss Prime Moist UV Essence Foundation

kiss Prime Moist UV Essence Foundation

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Price: $17.37

Spreads Well and Looks Dewy, but Gets Cakey if You Apply Too Much

It spread willingly and gave us reasonable coverage and a dewy finish. However, if you use too much, you will end up looking cakey. And though it will kind of blot out blemishes, this one is best for people who already have nice skin.

Finish C
Application B
Coverage A
Overall Score C

9. INTEGRATE Real Fit Liquid

INTEGRATE Real Fit Liquid

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Price: $10.03

It Doesn’t Feel Like You’re Wearing Anything (in a Good Way), but There’s Not Much Coverage

It was so light, it had us feeling like we weren’t wearing any makeup at all (and we mean that in a good way). However, the coverage was lighter than that of most of the other foundations we tried. But we’d say this is a cost-effective product, as it’s suitable for all skin types and all seasons.

Finish A
Application A
Coverage C
Overall Score C

8. Ettusais Oil Block Foundation

Ettusais Oil Block Foundation

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Price: $17.37

Good for Oily Skin, but Dehydrates Dry Skin

If anything, this foundation will keep you from turning into a greaseball. And even though it had good coverage, it went on smooth. However, it felt little heavy and is meant for sebum control, so we can’t recommend this one for dry skin.

Finish A
Application B
Coverage A
Overall Score B

7. KATE Liquid Foundation Secret Skin Maker Zero

KATE Liquid Foundation Secret Skin Maker Zero

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Price: $12.35

It’s Got Great Coverage–Perfect if You Want a Matte Finish

This foundation had great coverage. Even though the texture’s rich, it spreads pretty easily; as long as you apply just the right amount, you won’t look like a cake face. However, the finish turned out a bit dull, so we can’t recommend this if you want a dewy look.

Finish B
Application B
Coverage A+
Overall Score B

6. Macchia Label Clear Esthe Veil

Macchia Label Clear Esthe Veil

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Price: $19.10

Spreads Easily and Feels Amazing on the Skin! But There’s Not Enough Coverage

This spread like butter and felt so good on our skin! It’s medicated and is considered an essence foundation, so it’s great for all skin types. However, it went on pretty thin, and some felt like there wasn’t enough coverage. It’s good for those days you want to use something light and give your skin a break or for those who already have nice skin.

Finish B
Application A
Coverage A
Overall Score B

5. Coffret D’or Nudy Cover Moisture Liquid UV

Coffret D'or Nudy Cover Moisture Liquid UV

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Price: $33.77

Just Decent when It Comes to Coverage and Laying out a Flawless Look, but Gives You a Natural Glow

On SNS, everyone’s talking about how this foundation lasts all day. We particularly liked its finish, which was dewy but very natural. It’s great for evening out skin texture.

The coverage wasn’t that amazing, so this can’t give you that flawless porcelain look–but we’d say that the finish you do get is pretty good for this price point.

Finish B
Application A
Coverage A
Overall Score B

4. RMK UV Liquid Foundation

RMK UV Liquid Foundation

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Price: $32.32

Feels Light on the Skin and Gives You a Natural Dewy Finish! Coverage Fell Short of Expectations

It had a nice dewy finish and left us with translucent skin. It also looked natural and we couldn’t really feel it on our faces.

However, this foundation also goes on quite thin, so you can’t can’t expect it to blot out more obvious blemishes. We’d say this isn’t for you if you want full coverage or if you have a lot of problem spots where makeup tends to wear off.

Finish A
Application A
Coverage A
Overall Score A

3. SK-II Cellumination Liquid Foundation

SK-II Cellumination Liquid Foundation

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Price: $80.63

Good Coverage with Just a Thin Layer! Don’t Put on Too Much

This one gave us flawless, translucent skin. We put on just a thin layer, and yet it left us with more than enough coverage.

However, because you’re meant to spread it out pretty thin, it’s easy to go overboard. If you put on too much of this foundation, you’ll lose the porcelain face and end up with a cake face.

Finish B
Application A
Coverage A+
Overall Score A

2. ADDICTION The Skincare Foundation

ADDICTION The Skincare Foundation

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Price: $32.81

Dewy Foundation that Leaves You with Translucent Skin! Hydrates like a Moisturizer

We had nothing but praise for the solid coverage and dewy finish of this foundation. It also left us with translucent skin. If you use just a thin layer, you’ll end up with a natural look.

It was also so juicy and hydrating, it left us wondering if we were using a moisturizer. Because you’re meant to apply it thin, though, we’d say it works best with skin that’s already in good shape.

Finish A+
Application A
Coverage A
Overall Score A

1. IPSA Liquid Foundation

IPSA Liquid Foundation

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Price: $51.35

The One mybest Confidently Recommends: A Perfectly Balanced Liquid Foundation

All three of our experts were pleased with the translucent finish, the coverage, and the moisturizing properties of this foundation. The final look was very balanced; it brightened up our skin and left us looking fresh and dewy.

It was so light we forgot we were wearing makeup at all. It doesn’t matter whether your skin is naturally rough or flawless–this foundation will do it all.

Finish A+
Application A+
Coverage A+
Overall Ranking A+

Interested in Other J-Beauty Products?

Interested in Other J-Beauty Products?

We’ve done our fair share of testing. If you like what you read here, how about learning more about other Japanese cosmetics?

Summary

We invited three experts, purchased the 12 top selling bottles of foundation, and tested them all.

Liquid foundations are wonderful because they balance coverage and moisture. Everyone has different skin types and different priorities when it comes to makeup–so next time you’re looking to restock your makeup arsenal, make sure you keep us in mind!

Original by Yukina Matsuda; Translation by Jasmine Li

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